B2B content lives within a dangerous world. A world filled with monstrous jargon, hyperbole and rhetorical nonsense. However, there are areas within that world that thrive. Areas full of lush landscapes and in-demand riches. Those areas are what I like to call the storytelling lands. But in the B2B world, what makes these lands so plush? The answer is that compelling storytelling is how businesses engage their audience and stand out from the crowd. Storytelling drives emotion. And emotion drives business decisions.
This blog, therefore, is going to dissect how everyone, and I mean everyone, can tell their own story to create the most compelling B2B content the world has ever seen. Begone those dark demons of zero engagement and no leads and hello to ripe fields of gold.
We’re all storytellers
If I ever hear someone tell me they don't have a story to tell, no matter how dull their product or company may seem, I completely disagree. Every person has a story to tell, the trick is in getting it out and making it resonate with potential buyers. The catch is bad storytelling will be spotted a mile off, and prospects will run straight into the arms of your welcoming competitors. So if storytelling is the way forward, that brings us onto the first rule of writing compelling content - which is critical for successful inbound marketing: structure your story.
The key here is to actually plan out a structure. Spend time thinking about the most logical, effective and interesting way to convey your ideas - put yourself in your prospect's shoes. It amazes me how many people totally skip this process, especially if they are well-versed in writing technical documents unfit for normal human consumption.
Go back to basics - there needs to be a beginning, a middle and an end. And the content needs to flow throughout. In more advanced storytelling terms, think of it as progressing through setup, conflict and resolution (the classic three-part story structure well-loved around the world).
Conflict at the core
You might be thinking, ‘how the hell does this relate to B2B marketing’? Well, it relates because truly effective B2B content can use the same structure to thrive:
Setup: What’s the problem? What challenges are your prospects trying to solve? What’s the overarching narrative?
Conflict: Why is the current situation untenable? Why haven’t past solutions worked?
Resolution: There’s a better solution that solves the entire challenge. Why your product?
Call to action.
While you’re mulling that over, here’s the second rule for compelling content: don’t avoid conflict. Think about the best stories... They don't shy away from challenges. They need conflict. Not only do they need them, but they also thrive on them. Conflict is an inevitable, and exciting, part of a transition to a better way of doing things.
Think back to the great Greek stories of old. Would they have been anywhere near as entertaining if it was all fun and love? No. Conflict is necessary to drive the storyline. B2B marketing content that fluffs on about the positives is about as compelling as a cardboard box. After all, why should a potential customer buy from you if everything is rosy where they are now? Without sounding all doom and gloom, you need to vividly paint the picture that your customers simply cannot solve their pain points without you.
The benefits of structure
Of course, the three-part structure above is just a guideline. Every piece of content will change and evolve as flesh is added to the bones and creative imagery brings your writing to life.
However, following this structure will help you write better content, which benefits your business for a number of reasons:
It proves you understand your audience’s pain points: Businesses facing these problems are then far more likely to read on to your solution - which is what inbound is all about.
It provides the foundations for your sales pitch: Once your audience is agreed on the challenges and what’s needed to solve them, the actual pitch for your solution can be more concise, compelling and impactful.
It drives direct action: You may have noticed ‘call to action’ on the structure above. This is a key part of the puzzle. It’s the bit that instructs your readers to do what you want them to do and where to go next.
Now, you are ready for the final rule: get to the point.
You aren't an award-winning novelist, your audience isn’t reading your work as an alternative to the Iliad, and this isn't a chance to let your ego get ahead of you. Simply put, cut out the bullshit! You know where you’re going, so get there as fast as possible. If a paragraph doesn’t progress your argument, get rid of it. The patience of your readers is a limited resource, so use it wisely. And there are the three golden rules for writing compelling content.
As with all good stories, here’s the moral of this one: the age-old structure of storytelling has worked for thousands of years for good reason. Conflict is key for your story to resonate with your audience - without conflict, there is nothing. And the attention of your audience is thin, so keep your stories pacey and to the point. Now write, my friends, and embrace the power of the story.
Ready to learn more about how to create great inbound content? Get in touch to find out how to nail your content marketing.